So you jacked up your back or pulled your ACL. Your doctor told you have to hang up your sneakers and swim shorts for the season so you can heal. Now it’s six to ten weeks later and you’re all healed up. The doctor has given you the clean bill of health and you are ready to start training again. But you can’t just jump back into your routine after taking two or three months off. Here are a few tips to get back into training and safely prepare for your grand return to triathlons.
Training on a regular basis creates a habit. When a healthy habit is established, no longer is training a chore, but becomes an essential part of your day. When you first got injured, you probably felt weird going against your habit and not doing your daily workouts. Well, after you're forced hiatus, your habit is probably now nonexistent. You need to start taking the steps to reestablish that habit, bit by bit. This can start with simply setting aside 30 minutes a day to walk or lightly jog. Take your time getting back into the groove of things and don’t push yourself too hard. You are simply reestablishing your habit so that way, when you do get back into heavy training, it feels more natural. Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor might have prescribed physical therapy to help you get back to normal strength. Explain to both your doctor and physical therapist that your goal is to return to participating in triathlons. They’ll help create a solid plan with a firm goal to help you recover your endurance and strength without injuring yourself. Doctors have access to tons of tools to best help you heal and meet your goal. Along with that, physical therapy at home is a great way to re-create workout habits and ease your way back into shape.
It may be tempting to start comparing your progress to your times pre-injury and push to get back to that point as quick as possible, but don’t push yourself too hard. Even after your doctor has said you’re healthy, your injury may still be fragile. If you feel any type of pain coming from your old injury, stop training immediately and slow down your workout regiment. It’s better to take a day or two off instead of being laid up for another three months. Be extremely diligent with stretching, especially if your injury involves pulled, strained, or torn muscles. Staying hydrated before and after workouts and eating healthy can make a big difference in staying healthy.
So now you’ve started to train and you are back in the groove. You’ve reached the point where you are can begin pushing yourself to improve. Set small goals everyday and push yourself to meet them. If, at any time, pushing yourself aggravates the injury, take a day or two rest. Go back to a previous goal and see if that hurts. If not, slowly work back up to the goal time that did hurt and spend time getting used to it. Once that goal is easily accomplished, start pushing yourself again. Don’t stress if you aren’t meeting your goals perfectly, or aren’t ready for the next race. Staying healthy and injury free needs to be the top priority, but don’t let fear prevent you from improving. Keep a slow and steady improvement in mind when planning and you’ll be back to optimal shape in no time. Staying Positive Starting from square one again can be very discouraging. Take time to get motivated to begin training again. Remember back to what first got you into triathlons and recapture that passion. Reconnect with your old support network and ask for help to get back into the sport. Another tactic to staying positive and motivated is rewarding yourself for meeting goals. It can be as simple as a yummy meal at the end of the week or paying yourself to train. Take something you enjoy and turn it into a reward to push yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be back to your original work out regime and looking to the future.